Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Widely known by the abbreviation IBD, inflammatory bowel disease refers to several related medical disorders of the intestine.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two most common inflammatory bowel diseases—combined, these two forms of inflammatory bowel disease affect nearly two million Americans. Both forms of IBD can cause abdominal pain, recurrent diarrhea, swelling and sores along the tissue that line the digestive tract. While ulcerative colitis affects only the large intestine (colon), Crohn’s disease can develop anywhere in the digestive tract.
Causes of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Exact causes of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are still unknown. However, research suggests that they may be caused by genetic predisposition or the malfunctioning of the body’s immune system. Certain lifestyle and environmental factors may also increase a patient’s risk for inflammatory bowel disease.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Common symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease are diarrhea, bloody stools and abdominal cramping. In more severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease, the following symptoms may be experienced:
- Weight loss
- General weakness
The above symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can develop at a gradual pace or may begin abruptly.
Diagnosing Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The most accurate way to detect an inflammatory bowel disorder is to undergo a colorectal examination, such as a colonoscopy or barium x-ray. In many cases, your colorectal specialist may advise blood and stool tests to effectively diagnose and follow the progress of treatment.
Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Medication is often not the most effective form of inflammatory bowel disorder treatment, as causes of the disease are still unknown. In severe cases, operative intervention remains the most effective form of inflammatory bowel disease treatment. Where lifestyle changes or medication have proven ineffective in controlling IBD, affected portions of the intestine may have to be removed via colorectal operation.